The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
If Rembrandt may be said to have given us the human physiognomy of Holland,
it is his contemporary, Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/1629-1682), who may be said
to have delineated its geography. Indeed, van Ruisdael has been called, variously,
Holland's "foremost," its "most influential," its "greatest" landscape painter;
some went so far as to call him "one of the greatest of all landscape painters."
A generation younger than Rembrandt, his history is hazy, its details elusive.
It is known that he was born in Haarlem and trained by his father, Isaak,
and by his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael, both of them painters. (To the gratitude
of future art historians, young Jacob substituted an "i" for the "y" in the
family name.) By the age of 20, the young van Ruisdael had become a member
of the Haarlem Guild and was painting Haarlem's dunes, its sea, and the ever-moving
clouds that chased the sun and shadow across its flat countryside. In his
mid-20s, van Ruisdael traveled to the border region between eastern Holland
and western Germany; for the first time in his life he saw mountains, waterfalls,
and forests. The rugged motif became a familiar part of his repertoire, although
he also continued to paint the dark and light Haarlem countryside, even after
he had settled permanently in Amsterdam, sometime around 1656.
Southgate MT. Wooded Landscape With Waterfall. JAMA. 2002;287(24):3177. doi:10.1001/jama.287.24.3177